Things can change in a hurry for us at this time of year, and a major cold front hit northern Wisconsin on Friday bringing big northwest winds and plummeting temperatures. Larry Dittner (Mikana, WI) returned and brought along his nephew Brad Dittner (Eau Claire, WI) to experience a little nasty weather up north. Larry wouldn’t have it any other way! We fished the Hayward area and started the day targeting walleyes. Our first stop produced an 18″ fish and a few smallmouth, but it was obvious that the eye bite was going to be tough. We located fish in 15′ – 30 ‘ of water and were using jig/minnow combinations along with slip bobbers and minnows. After moving to our second spot and missing a couple of short hits, Brad tied into and landed his personal best musky. It was a super fat 40″ inch fish, and Brad did an excellent job bringing it to the net on light tackle. After releasing Brad’s musky, we moved to another lake for the afternoon. The wind continued to beat us up, but we found a bunch of active smallmouth in 10′ – 15′ of water. The Dittners connected on some really good fish including a couple of 20″ pigs that were as fat as could be. Five plus pounders for sure! All of our fish were caught in the wind as we drifted jigs and minnows over a rock/weed hump in 5′ – 20’ of water. Our day was a classic case of making lemonade out of lemons, and I couldn’t be prouder of the Dittner men for sticking it out in some brutal conditions. That was about as tough as it gets, and they accounted well for themselves. Good things happen to Packer fans! Water temps ranged from 58 – 60 degrees on both lakes we fished, and the cold nights that are forecasted over the next few days will definitely put most of our lakes down to the mid 50’s. Excellent job today Dittners, and congratulations on two personal bests Brad. Big winds and big fish… You don’t know if you don’t go!
David and Nick Russo (Winfield, IL) returned on Saturday fishing out of Angler’s Haven, and we were back in the Hayward area chasing muskies. 2016 was extremely good to the Russos, but the muskies got revenge in 2017. Cool temps and high skies pushed water temps into the mid 50’s, and we were blanked after pounding the water all day with everything we had. We threw bucktails, cranks, and jerkbaits along with dragging suckers, and it just wasn’t happening. It wasn’t for lack of effort though. The Russo’s chopped up the water all day, but the muskies weren’t having any of it. If you’re going to have a slow day, these are the guys to have it with. We solved a bunch of problems, and I’m sure Nick will take all of my advice on the girls in his life. Not a good idea Nick! Thanks for another fun day Russo’s. I’ll be pulling for your Cubs, and I feel sorry for those muskies next year!
When you’re in a bit of a slump, it sure feels good to bust out of it… Sunday morning began as Saturday ended. High Skies, cool temps, and zero musky activity. Joe Prohaska (Duluth, MN) returned and brought along his son Ben (Minneapolis, MN) with hopes of putting Ben on his first musky. We fished the Hayward area and just couldn’t get anything moving in the morning as we tossed cranks, jerk baits, and bucktails along with dragging suckers. By late morning it was time to make a bold move. There always seems to be a few day stretch in October when musky fishing on our lakes gets tough, and I think we’re in it right now. We switched to a small river system for the afternoon, and it turned out to be a day saving move. Rivers can be a bit more forgiving when weather conditions shut down lake bites, and this was a good example. Ben got the catching started with a 32″ fish on a sucker. He did everything just right in tight quarters to get his first ski. Watching someone put their first one in the boat never gets old! His dad wasn’t about to be outdone though and popped a good 34″ fish on a bucktail not long after. That fish hit immediately at the end of the cast and put up one heck of a battle as Joe stayed with it all the way to the net. River fish seem to have a little extra zip to them… A few minutes later, Ben put musky #3 of the day in the boat when a healthy 33″ fish slammed his bucktail. Just like that, everything was OK… We had one more musky roll on a bait next to the boat, and Joe landed a small pike to wrap up an exciting afternoon. It was just what the doctor ordered. Water temps had dropped to 49 degrees which was much cooler than the lake we fished earlier in the day that was still in the high 50’s. Probably not a coincidence that the cooler water had more active fish. I’d expect our lakes to get cranking soon with the best musky fishing of the season to come. Congratulations to Joe and Ben on some good fish and a really fun day. You deserved it!
South winds with 30 mph gust hit Chequamegon Bay on Monday, and my trip had to be rescheduled to next spring. Bummer! Big wind on big water doesn’t work… How about some stable weather Mother Nature?…
Bruce Bandow (Plover, WI) and Mike Alff (Stevens Point, WI) returned for a two day trip on Tuesday, and we spent day #1 in the Hayward area. The bite was goofy from the beginning. We caught a few walleyes and smallies, but it was slow going with lots of short bites. After talking it over, we decided to stick with the lake we were on for the afternoon. The old “Never leave fish to find fish” theory came into play, and it turned out to be the right move. We spent a few minutes after lunch looking at some deep water spots, but there was nothing that made us want to try it. Back to the shallow bite, and back to the fish. Good choice! We found walleyes up to 20″ and smallies up to 20″ along a weed/rock breakline in 8′ – 12′ of water using jigs and minnows. Bruce and Mike earned every fish they caught, and it was definitely a “work for it” day. I couldn’t have had two better guys in the boat to make it happen. Water temps were in the high 50’s, and we have another big weather change on the way. Thanks for the fish cleaning lesson Bruce. Very cool, and I’m on board! Get out the long underwear and hand warmers for tomorrow boys… We’re going to need it!!!
Mike and Bruce were back in the the boat on Wednesday, and we started out on Chequamegon Bay fishing smallies. The nasty weather system that was predicted had moved in over night and brought cold temps with strong north winds. Apparently the fish felt like us, and it was tough going from the start. We scraped up a few fish over rocks in 15′ – 19′ of water on minnows, but it was a struggle to get any kind of consistent bite going. The wind definitely limited our mobility, and water temps were pretty consistent around 52 degrees. It was time to pull the pin in the afternoon and head inland, but apparently those fish were on the same page. We located fish in 15′- 20′ rocks and along 10′ – 15′ weed edges, but they were pretty stubborn. Mike and Bruce did land some really nice smallmouth up to 20″ however as we bounced from spot to spot catching one or missing a short hit at every stop. Inland temps were steady at 57 degrees, and another cold night should push that down even further. These guys put in one heck of a day and deserved every fish they caught. Nothing came easy, but the fish we boated were worth it. Thanks for another great time guys. I always enjoy it and look forward to next time. Nice job fellas!